Just yesterday I gave a talk to the local REU students on solar system studies and what they tell us about planet formation. At the end I wound up giving grad school advice that made them laugh- they thought I was joking when I said that getting into grad school is all about astronomical incest. Realistically, every grad school I’ve ever been accepted to involved some level of incest including a case where I got out of the rejection pile and into the acceptances based on one phone call (apparently it helps to be friends with a professor another school is trying to woo). My position now was a bit of a direct favor- rather than old professors and advisors calling on my behalf, I just very pointedly mentioned on a Sunday night telecon with a research group that I was applying to advisor’s university (and no, I wasn’t part of the scientist group, rather I was on the call in a work capacity). A week after the application deadline for the department I was accepted and it was very clear whose graduate student I would be.

At dinner last night one of the older REU students was picking my brain on networking and how to work the system. Maybe one of them will have an easier time this year with their applications.